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How we test smart rings at ZDNET in 2024

From Oura to Ultrahuman to Evie, here's how we test and rank the latest smart rings on the market.
Written by Nina Raemont, Associate Editor
Evie Ring on hand against cityscape
Nina Raemont/ZDNET

Smart rings might be a novel product category in the world of wearables, but they're making big waves. As we follow the growth of this burgeoning product category, ZDNET's team of experts is testing out every notable smart ring on the market. It's no small feat, given how rapidly the market in question is growing. 

Also: The best smart rings you can buy

How do we test and evaluate these smart rings? What features do we seek out, and what are some red and green flags you should look for as you shop for smart rings? Here's the full breakdown.

What makes a smart ring ZDNET recommended? 

We don't recommend that you buy a smart ring unless we've spent days testing them ourselves. To gain our recommendation, the best smart rings must excel in terms of comfort, activity features, battery life, and sleep-tracking features, and they do this while having the price to match (at or around $350, with or without a subscription). Other features, like add-ons and accessories, don't hold equal weight to the aforementioned ones. Sure, it's pleasant to have an AI-assisted health coach or symptom logging, but those add-ons or accessories don't fundamentally impact the usability of the smart ring in the way that health tracking metrics, battery life, and comfort do. 

How we test smart rings in 2024

Samsung Galaxy Ring at MWC 2024
Kerry Wan/ZDNET


I once wore a smart ring shaped like a square, and I couldn't move my fingers for the entire day. I've worn smart rings that feel naturally unobtrusive and ones that stick out and make it nearly impossible to go about everyday tasks, like gripping a subway pole, carrying multiple bags, or typing on a keyboard. Before I even open the smart ring app on my phone, I first pay attention to how the smart ring feels around my finger. If a brand can't nail comfort right off the bat, it's going to be hard for someone to wear realistically.

While testing out smart rings, I consider the shape and design and prefer circular rings to those with funky, square shapes for maximum wearability.

I also consider size range as another element of comfort. You'll want your ring size to be available, and it's normally a good sign when a brand offers sizes six through 12, or at least several sizes for you to sample before finalizing an order.

Pricing and subscriptions

Evie Ring on hand against cityscape
Nina Raemont/ZDNET

You can expect to pay between $280 and $400 for a competitive smart ring. Prices will vary -- and get higher -- depending on the finish you prefer (a stealth or gold finish on the Oura Heritage Ring takes the $300 ring up by $100 and $150, respectively, for example). My advice? Don't waste your money on a more expensive finish, unless appearance means a lot to you. It's the underlying tech that you should be paying more for. 

Many smart rings, like Oura and Amazfit, come with monthly subscriptions that increase the price by around $50 to $100 per year. While this can be seen as a way for brands to extract more money from customers, I've found the Oura membership very helpful. A subscription isn't necessarily a red flag but rather a caution, depending on the brand and its features.

If a smart ring is priced under $300, it often lacks essential features, such as health data scores that provide insights into sleep quality and readiness, longer battery life, or comprehensive data for daily wellness recommendations. I've found that $350 is the sweet spot for smart rings, offering a comprehensive, competitive product with maximum wearability, a five-day battery life, a suite of health data with actionable insights, and decent customer service.

Battery life 

Spec sheets aren't always accurate when it comes to a smart ring's battery life. That's why I record the time it takes for the smart ring to go from 100% to 1%. I also charge the ring to 100% before I go about my first full day of usage and testing. Some of the best smart rings offer five- or six-day battery life.

Activity features 

Go2Sleep ring against a white bed backdrop
Nina Raemont/ZDNET

Smart rings excel at measuring sleep and activity. As their name implies, they are designed to learn from your data over time, providing more personalized activity and wellness recommendations. To test the activity features of smart rings, I wear them for at least two weeks to a month, collecting as much health and fitness data as possible. I go on long walks, runs, take dance classes, and bike rides with the ring on. 

Also: The best fitness rings you can buy 

The best rings can detect and log activity even when you haven't manually logged a workout, while the runners-up accurately document activity data and provide insights into heart rate, blood oxygen levels, recovery time, and more

Sleep features 

To compare smart rings, I wear them while sleeping for as long as possible to understand their features and how they rate my daily sleep. I then compare this data to other wearables. After a few weeks or months of sleeping with the ring, I evaluate for gaps in the data, the usefulness of the sleep insights, the different stages of sleep monitored, and the bedtime recommendations, among other factors.  

Add-ons and accessories

I test every add-on feature a smart ring offers, such as symptom tracking, tags, AI recommendations, and more. I consider how these features would benefit users, the intended audience for each, how well the audience aligns with the actual product, and the overall functionality of the add-ons.

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